Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee

Aug. 28, 2002

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
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      6      BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 28th day of 

      7   August, 2002, there came to be heard matters under the 

      8   regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife 

      9   Commission of Texas, in the Commission Hearing Room of 

     10   the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters Complex, 

     11   Austin, Texas, beginning at 9:00 a.m. to wit:

     12   
          APPEARANCES:
     13   THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
          
     14   REGULATIONS COMMITTEE:
          
     15   CHAIRMAN:    Katharine Armstrong, Austin, Texas
                       Ernest Angelo, Jr., Vice Chairman, Midland, 
     16                Texas
                       John Avila, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas
     17                Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas, 
                       Committee Chair
     18                Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
                       Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
     19                Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
                       Kelly W. Rising, M.D., Beaumont, Texas
     20                Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas
          
     21   THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
          Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel 
     22   of the Parks and Wildlife Department

     23   

     24   

     25   





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      1                  CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  Good morning.  This 

      2   meeting is called to order.  Before proceeding with any 

      3   business, I believe Mr. Cook has a statement to make.

      4                  MR. COOK:  Madam Chairman, a public 

      5   notice of this meeting containing all items on the 

      6   proposed agenda has been filed in the office of the 

      7   Secretary of State, as required by Chapter 551 

      8   Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Law.  

      9   I would like for this action to be noted in the official 

     10   record of this meeting.

     11                  CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  Thank you, Mr. Cook.  

     12   We will begin today with the regulations committee.  

     13   Commissioner Fitzsimons will call your committee to 

     14   order.

     15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you, 

     16   Madam Chair.  The regulations committee will come to 

     17   order at 9:00 a.m., August 28th.  And the first order of 

     18   business is the approval of the committee minutes from 

     19   the previous meeting.  If anyone has any comments or 

     20   changes to the minutes?  

     21                  Hearing none, the committee approves the 

     22   minutes and the motion carries.  And, Bob, the first 

     23   item in the chairman's charge.

     24                  MR. COOK:  Thank you, sir.  In June, the 

     25   participants in our natural leaders program presented 





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      1   their project completion reports.  Two of these reports 

      2   addressed provisions of Senate Bill 305.  They were a 

      3   part of this committee's charge.  These include creating 

      4   a training program for new Commission members and 

      5   development of a complaint management policy and process 

      6   for the maintenance of complaint information. 

      7                  In addition, the coastal fisheries 

      8   division has completed the required comprehensive study 

      9   of the shrimp resources of the state, and a copy of the 

     10   report will be provided to you by mail. 

     11                  Mr. Chairman, if I might, I'd like to -- 

     12   as we -- as we get this meeting started, I'd like to 

     13   introduce a couple of new people and a -- and a new 

     14   selection that I've recently made to the audience and to 

     15   the Commission.  It is -- it is with great pride and 

     16   honor that I introduce to you Ann Bright. 

     17                  Ann, if you would, we'll -- we'll ask you 

     18   to stand up.  Y'all just remain standing.  Ann is -- has 

     19   hired on and come as our general counsel.  This is her 

     20   first week, so we're proud to have her and appreciate 

     21   her being here. 

     22                  Drew Thigpen is our deputy executive 

     23   director for administration divisions.  Drew will be 

     24   working primarily with Suzy Whittenton's division, 

     25   Annette's division, and Lydia's division, in those 





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      1   administrative areas. 

      2                  And just the most recent, I hope you have 

      3   noticed that we now have a new deputy executive director 

      4   for our field operation group.  Scott Boruff has been 

      5   selected for that job.  All three of these jobs are 

      6   obviously huge -- have huge responsibilities and will 

      7   play major roles in the -- in the department.  I am -- I 

      8   am very appreciative of having these folks on our team.  

      9   I think they'll be a great asset to us and will -- and 

     10   will fill many of the -- of the goals and objectives 

     11   that we have.  Thank you, very much.

     12                  CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  On behalf of the 

     13   Commission, I want to compliment Bob Cook for the 

     14   excellent job he did in recruiting these wonderful 

     15   people.  The Commission is -- is indeed happy to have 

     16   all three of you on board.  I think you'll help make 

     17   Bob's job easier.  And it certainly will help make our 

     18   job easier.  Thank you all for being here.

     19                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you, Bob.  

     20   Our next item on our agenda for the regulations 

     21   committee is the Game Bird Proclamation, late season.  

     22   Vernon?

     23                  MR. BEVILL:  I see they've got the screen 

     24   up here where I can read it today.  That's good.

     25                  Mr. Chairman, my name is Vernon Bevill, 





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      1   and I am the game bird program director.  And we're here 

      2   today to talk about the -- if I can get it to work.  

      3   There we go. -- the Late Season Migratory Bird 

      4   Proclamation primarily dealing with ducks, geese, and 

      5   the sandhill cranes.  There are a number of proposed 

      6   changes this year, and this is a summary of these 

      7   changes. 

      8                  We have extension frameworks on each end 

      9   of the duck season for about -- about a week.  In other 

     10   words, the duck season can begin a little earlier, back 

     11   into September.  And it can end a little later, the last 

     12   Sunday in January.  Canvasback population dropped below 

     13   the triggering threshold for a season.  And the Fish and 

     14   Wildlife Service opted to close that season. 

     15                  The population of pintails is below the 

     16   long-term average substantially and have not responded 

     17   to habitat condition recovery back when -- when things 

     18   were a lot wetter up north.  And we are looking at a 

     19   39-day restricted season on taking canvasback. 

     20                  We've made a little division in the 

     21   eastern goose zone to accommodate our light goose 

     22   conservation rules, as well as deal with the extension 

     23   of the duck season framework.  And we are proposing a 

     24   change in the east goose zone bag limit. 

     25                  For ducks, in the High Plains Mallard 





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      1   Management Unit, the significant change that I would 

      2   call to your attention is that you -- you remember that 

      3   we were reduced to a nine-day teal season this -- this 

      4   spring, which starts in September.  But since we now 

      5   have the opportunity to open the regular duck season on 

      6   the Saturday nearest the 24th of September.  And our 

      7   teal season actually closes on the 22nd. 

      8                  With a lot of feedback from the High 

      9   Plains Mallard Management Unit, we're going to go into 

     10   that first split of the regular duck season the day 

     11   after material season closes, which would be a Monday.  

     12   And let me see if I can back this up.  And that would 

     13   allow a week of the regular duck season, which in effect 

     14   would give us a 16-day teal season with bonus other 

     15   ducks.  So that should work very well.  And we've gotten 

     16   a lot of support from the -- from the people that hunt 

     17   in that part of the state.  So we're recommending that. 

     18                  And then the regular season would open on 

     19   the 26th of October and would end on the 22nd of 

     20   January, which is a Wednesday.  We -- this allowed us to 

     21   take the full 107-day opportunity for hunting migratory 

     22   birds in that -- in that unit. 

     23                  For the -- for the north zone, we have a 

     24   total of 76 days to utilize.  And, of course, in each 

     25   zone we're proposing a two-day youth season.  And that 





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      1   uses two of those days.  The -- the regular duck season, 

      2   we're proposing that first short split, that we have in 

      3   the past, on the 9th and 10th of November.  It's a 

      4   two-day split.  And then we reopen the following 

      5   Saturday.  And this year we are proposing to run that 

      6   season until the last day of opportunity, which is 

      7   January the 26th. 

      8                  North Zone hunters have consistently told 

      9   us they want most of their days late.  The extension 

     10   framework allows us to do that and provides them an 

     11   extra week, when hopefully the weather will be cold 

     12   enough to move some mallards into the state of Texas. 

     13                  In the South Zone, again, we have 76 

     14   days.  We are proposing to open the first split on 

     15   November the 2nd and end it on December the 1st.  Our 

     16   South Zone hunters in a recent survey told us that 

     17   December is -- is the month that they want more days in.  

     18   And so instead of having a 12-day split in early 

     19   December, we're only proposing a five-day split and 

     20   reopening on December the 7th.  And then end the season 

     21   on January the 19th, which is a week earlier than we 

     22   could end it, but that is to continue to address the 

     23   Light Goose Conservation Order and to try to provide the 

     24   same opportunity for light geese.  That's so that we can 

     25   manage that population back down to an acceptable level, 





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      1   so the habitat destruction on the breeding ground will 

      2   be subdued. 

      3                  This year, again, we have a six-bird bag 

      4   with the two exceptions, I mentioned earlier.  We will 

      5   establish a 39-day canvasback season with a one-bird 

      6   bag.  And I mean -- I'm sorry.  Pintail season with a 

      7   one-bird bag.  And then the canvasback season is closed 

      8   statewide this year. 

      9                  In the western goose zone, the -- the -- 

     10   we're proposing again the same basic season as last 

     11   year, October the 26th to February the 9th, with a 

     12   20-bird bag for light geese.  Same season dates for dark 

     13   geese with a five-bird bag, no more than one of which 

     14   can be a white-front.

     15                  In the eastern goose zone, we're 

     16   proposing a white-front season that would run from 

     17   October the 26th to January the 19th with a two-bird 

     18   bag.  And then the Canada goose/brant season, that would 

     19   be the same dates, also with a two-bird bag.  And the 

     20   hunter could have an aggregate three, no more than two 

     21   of which could be a white front.  So that gives them a 

     22   little more to work with than we had last year, that 

     23   we're actually adding a Canada goose to that bag limit. 

     24                  In the -- in the north segment of the 

     25   eastern goose zone, we're proposing to -- to run the 





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      1   season from October the 26th to January the 26th.  But 

      2   in the south segment, October the 26th to January the 

      3   19th.  That allows us south of I-10 to go into the Light 

      4   Goose Conservation Order the day after the duck and 

      5   goose season closes. 

      6                  So this gives us some opportunity to 

      7   begin the light goose season while there's still plenty 

      8   of light geese that's south of I-10.  And there will be 

      9   an extra week of hunting above I-10 for the regular 

     10   goose season and the duck season.  And then that 

     11   following week, they would then go into the light 

     12   goose -- goose season, as well. 

     13                  And, again, that light goose season is 

     14   unchanged from last year, except for calendar dates.  

     15   We're still working with the federal law on that, 

     16   although the Environmental Impact Statement hasn't been 

     17   written.  It has not been implemented yet.  We 

     18   anticipate that it will not be implemented until 

     19   probably later this winter. 

     20                  We do have some opportunity for an 

     21   extended falconry season in our north and south duck 

     22   zones, since we do not use all 107 days available to us 

     23   for duck hunting with gun.  So the extended falconry 

     24   season would be January 27th to February 17th in the 

     25   north zone and January the 20th to February the 10th in 





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      1   the south zone with a 3-bird bag. 

      2                  For sandhill cranes, the main point I 

      3   would make that in zone C -- again, we have to close 

      4   that zone early, a little earlier than we could run the 

      5   season because of the Light Goose Conservation Order.  

      6   So that season would be closing on January the 19th.  

      7   Other than that, we had the basic season same as last 

      8   year in the other two zones. 

      9                  Public comments, we have a total of 77 to 

     10   date.  I would say that the thing I would like to bring 

     11   your attention to is, in the south duck zone, we have 

     12   had 32 comments so far requesting the extension of the 

     13   framework to the last possible day, which would be the 

     14   26th of September.  We have chosen not to -- to react to 

     15   that series of public comments because of our commitment 

     16   to the Light Goose Conservation Order and feel that is 

     17   the paramount conservation issue that we're dealing with 

     18   and need to stay committed to that.  So we're not 

     19   recommending changing the south zone framework dates. 

     20                  High Plains Mallard Management Unit, you 

     21   can see we've had 17 comments in favor of that early 

     22   duck season.  So we -- and we feel like that's going to 

     23   be a good opportunity for the High Plains Mallard 

     24   Management Unit duck hunters. 

     25                  And then there's a scattering of other 





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      1   comments.  There's been 13 comments preferring that we 

      2   set the pintail -- the 39-day pintail season a little 

      3   earlier.  There has been a small group of comments 

      4   requesting that we have a one-week split in the north 

      5   goose zone in December.  But the preponderance of people 

      6   that talked to us about north goose zone dates still 

      7   want a -- as many days of opportunity as late as they 

      8   can get.  So I feel that we've accommodated that, then 

      9   we'd hear from all the other folks that thought it was 

     10   okay the way it was. 

     11                  So -- but that's just, you know, a 

     12   general review of the public comments.  And we'll be 

     13   coming before the Commission tomorrow with the formal 

     14   presentation.  If there's any questions, I'd be happy to 

     15   answer them.  Or try.

     16                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  When is the 39 days 

     17   for pintails only?  What -- the only pintail season of 

     18   39 days, when does that come in the season?

     19                  MR. BEVILL:  Basically, in the north and 

     20   south zone, it will be the last 39 days of the season.  

     21   In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit, since that 

     22   season is going to end on Wednesday, we felt like more 

     23   opportunity would be afforded the hunters if we backed 

     24   that date up to end it on the 19th and then count back 

     25   39 days, which will start it on a Saturday.  I want to 





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      1   say it's the 12th of December, if my memory serves me 

      2   correctly.

      3                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Vernon, there 

      4   was quite a bit of discussion last year when we were 

      5   talking about the Light Goose Conservation Order on the 

      6   status of the snow goose and the habitat destruction 

      7   issue resulting from overpopulation in the breeding 

      8   grounds.  What's the status of that problem?

      9                  MR. BEVILL:  We -- we are bringing the 

     10   population down, according to the information that I'm 

     11   getting.  Frankly, it's coming down slower than we would 

     12   all like to see.  We just got the report from our 

     13   statistician group just a couple of weeks ago, indicated 

     14   that our harvest during that segment in Texas was about 

     15   87,000 additional light geese last winter.  I don't know 

     16   what that number is floyway-wide or between the 

     17   Mississippi and the central flyway, but it is coming 

     18   down.  There is continuing habitat destruction because 

     19   it's still way too high.

     20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So the 

     21   habitat -- there hasn't been any habitat improvement?

     22                  MR. BEVILL:  No.

     23                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Too soon to 

     24   tell.

     25                  MR. BEVILL:  No.  And I wouldn't 





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      1   anticipate much habitat improvement for a decade or more 

      2   after you get that population down to a more manageable 

      3   level because it's such a slow recovery process in that 

      4   kind of environment.

      5                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And we're in 

      6   the beginning of a long haul in the snow goose problem.

      7                  MR. BEVILL:  Whoever -- whoever is 

      8   sitting in front of the Commission 30 years from now 

      9   will still be talking about this issue, I'm afraid.

     10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you.  

     11   Anybody -- anyone have any further questions for -- 

     12   Vernon, thank you.

     13                  MR. BEVILL:  Thank you.

     14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  If there's no 

     15   further questions or discussion, without objection, I'll 

     16   place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting 

     17   agenda for public comment and action. 

     18                  Next, Scientific Breeder Regulations 

     19   Disease Testing and Monitoring Measures, Jerry Cooke.

     20                  MR. COOKE:  Mr. Chairman and members, my 

     21   name is Jerry Cooke.  I'm Game Branch chief of the 

     22   wildlife division.  I'll be presenting you these 

     23   proposed changes to the scientific breeder regulations. 

     24                  As you know, chronic wasting disease has 

     25   developed into a national issue of public concern.  The 





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      1   proposal before you was initiated in the January meeting 

      2   of 2002.  Action on this item was postponed at both the 

      3   April and May Commission meetings and was republished to 

      4   allow the Texas Deer Association more time to develop a 

      5   voluntary program adequate to address the state's 

      6   concerns for monitoring this disease. 

      7                  126 facilities was the monitoring goal, 

      8   as established by the Animal Health Commission.  Since 

      9   the last meeting, Parks and Wildlife Department has 

     10   approached the completion of our -- of our plan to deal 

     11   with this disease.  We have strong grasp -- we've had 

     12   comments back from the Animal Health Commission.  It 

     13   includes many things, not the least of which is to test 

     14   clinical animals as they are encountered in the wild.  

     15   To date, we tested 11.  All have been negative, which is 

     16   a positive. 

     17                  And we also plan to test animals taken 

     18   from our wildlife management area hunts and state park 

     19   hunts this year, which will range between 500 and 1,000 

     20   animals, as is expected. 

     21                  As of this morning, at 8:06, there have 

     22   been 170 applications to the Texas Animal Commission 

     23   from scientific breeder holders to participate in the 

     24   CWD Monitoring Program. 

     25                  As our proposals were laid out, because 





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      1   of this response by the efforts of both the 

      2   Texas Wildlife Association and the Texas Deer 

      3   Association and our chairman, specifically, I think is 

      4   very effective.  I don't believe that our adoption of a 

      5   definition of "in healthy condition" or the prohibitions 

      6   associated with that definition are really needed at 

      7   this time.  And as long as the monitoring is adequate in 

      8   the state, I believe that it should be a voluntary 

      9   program. 

     10                  But there are other proposals that were 

     11   published at the same time that I'd like to bring before 

     12   you, also.  Previously, in our meetings with breeders as 

     13   a group, we had kind of reached a compromise arrangement 

     14   of -- concerning marking fawns in the scientific 

     15   breeding facility.  And in lieu of having all animals 

     16   marked by a certain date, which required handling 

     17   animals, which was not always easy and not always safe, 

     18   we simply requested a fawn report.  How many fawns do 

     19   you have in your facility, period, provided by November 

     20   1.  And this was adopted by a previous Commission. 

     21                  Unfortunately, we also had a lot of other 

     22   proposed changes at that time.  And that -- that 

     23   adoption was never posted.  We never published that 

     24   proposed change -- or that adopted change with the 

     25   Secretary of State because virtually no one who adopted 





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      1   that is still here.  We didn't want you to think that we 

      2   were doing it as a housekeeping measure and not bringing 

      3   it to your attention.  I believe it is a housekeeping 

      4   issue, if you all still agree that this is a good thing 

      5   for us to do. 

      6                  Also, there were several provisions for 

      7   temporary transfer of animals from a facility to -- for 

      8   nursing purposes, for veterinary purposes, for breeding 

      9   purposes, those kinds of things, which is still cool.  

     10   Unfortunately, a thing came up in the last year which we 

     11   need to clarify, that we didn't mean that you could move 

     12   them outside of the jurisdiction of the state 

     13   temporarily and bring them back in.  If you're going to 

     14   temporarily transfer them, it needs to be within Texas.  

     15   If you're going to move them out of Texas, that's a 

     16   different matter. 

     17                  And third, part of the proclamation is 

     18   very clear on this issue.  Not all of it is, and we 

     19   would like to clarify.  We would like to have the issue 

     20   clarified by you, if you would.  And that is the issue 

     21   of permission -- written permission required for release 

     22   of animals from a facility into the wild.  It has never 

     23   been a big issue in the past.  But then CWD has never 

     24   been a big issue in the past.  Nor have our monitoring 

     25   efforts been an issue in the past.  And that is one of 





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      1   the proposals that we would like to have clarified.  And 

      2   we'd like to hear from you on. 

      3                  Another issue that's not directly related 

      4   to this -- the proposal that's before you -- with the 

      5   fact that the Texas Animal Health Commission has 

      6   established their entry requirements in Texas, they have 

      7   removed their import suspension animals under their 

      8   jurisdiction, which only leaves our import suspension 

      9   still in place for white tail and mule deer.  And I 

     10   believe that it would be appropriate for us to publish a 

     11   proposal to change that, to remove our prohibition on 

     12   importation for consideration at the November meeting.  

     13   We can't do it at this meeting because the appropriate 

     14   sections are not open.

     15                  But that's basically the end of my 

     16   discussion here.  If you have any questions, I would be 

     17   happy to entertain them.

     18                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And the reason 

     19   your recommendation of removing that prohibition is that 

     20   it's no longer necessary now that the Animal Health 

     21   Commission has promulgated their rules?

     22                  MR. COOKE:  Absolutely.  From the very 

     23   first day that we discussed import suspension, it was 

     24   for the purpose of providing adequate cover for the 

     25   Animal Health Commission to complete their rule-making 





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      1   process.  And that rule-making process is now complete.

      2                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  What does that -- 

      3   what does  their rule entail?

      4                  MR. COOKE:  Their rule entails a 

      5   monitoring requirement of animals coming into the state, 

      6   which varies.  If animals are coming from a state that 

      7   has no chronic waste disease, has not found any chronic 

      8   waste disease, and has a state-sponsored monitoring 

      9   program, the facility would have to be under that 

     10   program for three years before an animal could be 

     11   approved to come in. 

     12                  If it is from a state that has not had 

     13   any chronic wasting disease reportedly from it but does 

     14   not have a state-sponsored monitoring program, and they 

     15   enumerate in their rule what an adequate monitoring 

     16   program is, then five years in a -- a facility would 

     17   have to demonstrate to the Animal Health Commission that 

     18   they've been doing it all by themselves.  And they've 

     19   been doing it based on the definition of a monitoring 

     20   program for five years in order to come in. 

     21                  And if an animal is coming from a state 

     22   that has had chronic wasting disease reported and has a 

     23   state monitoring program, it has to be in the monitoring 

     24   program for five years to come in.  Everyone involved in 

     25   the discussion - and lots of people were involved in the 





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                                                                19
      1   discussion - all nodded.  This is a good entry 

      2   requirement to protect the states and still allow 

      3   commerce to take place and minimizing risk.

      4                  COMMISSIONER COOK:  I want to make sure 

      5   to mention, you said, as of 8:00 a.m. this morning, they 

      6   have 170 volunteer breeders signed to participate in 

      7   this voluntary testing program.  As I recall the number, 

      8   that kind of our floor was 120 --

      9                  MR. COOKE:  126 was the goal.  170 as of 

     10   this morning.  They have considerable momentum.  I still 

     11   have calls on my voice mail right now talking about it.  

     12   Virtually everyone who has talked to me about the 

     13   program has gone ahead and signed up.  So I expect this 

     14   number to rise, to be very frank with you.  As I said, 

     15   the main point is, as long as testing is adequate in 

     16   this state, it should be a voluntary program.  And we 

     17   should all work toward quit and maintaining a voluntary 

     18   program that works for us -- for us all.

     19                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Bob, if I could 

     20   follow up on that, according to the minutes from our 

     21   last meeting, the number was 11.  The confirmed number 

     22   was 11, and 30 was the possible.  And we've gone from 

     23   that to 170?

     24                  MR. COOKE:  Correct.

     25                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Pretty 





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      1   impressive, the change in totals up there.

      2                  MR. COOKE:  There's 480 in the state.  

      3   Montana.  Now -- now, 480 -- that's everybody that's got 

      4   a permit right now.  And then there's quite a few new 

      5   ones in there.  There's 427 that reported -- that gave 

      6   us an annual report from last year.  So that's how many 

      7   really functional facilities we have.

      8                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  What you're 

      9   outlining is a ban on importation and substituting the 

     10   voluntary procedure?

     11                  MR. COOKE:  Well, our rules -- our rules 

     12   are to require that an animal coming into this state 

     13   under our program be in compliance with all the Animal 

     14   Health Commission rules.  So, in other words, all of 

     15   those entry requirements that the Animal Health 

     16   Commission adopted are required from their perspective, 

     17   but it's also required from our proclamation, which 

     18   means our people can enforce those -- those entry 

     19   requirements, as well.  So -- so they'll be coming in 

     20   under those -- under those stipulations. 

     21                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  For everybody, 

     22   not just people in the voluntary program?

     23                  MR. COOKE:  For everybody.

     24                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Yeah.

     25                  MR. COOKE:  Everybody in Texas.





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                                                                21
      1                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Jerry, is it 

      2   fair to say -- this may be simplistic.  But is it fair 

      3   to say that our proclamation at the emergency meeting 

      4   where we prohibited the importation was necessary until 

      5   the Animal Health Commission promulgated these new rules 

      6   that you just described? 

      7                  MR. COOKE:  I agree, Bob.

      8                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Okay.

      9                  MR. COOKE:  Yes, I do agree.

     10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I know that's 

     11   boiling it down a little bit.

     12                  MR. COOKE:  That there was no protection 

     13   at that time.  There is adequate protection at this 

     14   time.

     15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And one other 

     16   question.  The 170 -- I know this is -- these are 

     17   numbers that have been coming in within the last hour.  

     18   But any indication of the number of animals that 

     19   represents?

     20                  MR. COOKE:  No.  Not until -- not until 

     21   the herd health plans are promulgated by the Animal 

     22   Health Commission will we really know.  Let's put it 

     23   this way.  If we got a list of who they were, we would 

     24   know.  But I don't know what that is.

     25                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  But we will 





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                                                                22
      1   know that in a -- in time, we'll know?

      2                  MR. COOKE:  If you're asking, yes, is the 

      3   answer.

      4                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Okay.

      5                  Commissioner Ramos, it's your...

      6                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  You mentioned that 

      7   there may be different standards for the deer coming in 

      8   from -- from out of state.  How are animals traced?  For 

      9   example, an animal may have been in Colorado for two 

     10   years, and then it ends up in Louisiana or in Oklahoma  

     11   and eventually works its way.  Do you know whether the 

     12   system has protection to be able to identify an animal 

     13   as having originated -- been maybe 18 months in Colorado 

     14   and 12 months --

     15                  MR. COOKE:  Yes.  Because when an animal 

     16   comes into a facility, the facility takes on the 

     17   monitoring status of the facility from which that animal 

     18   came.  So if I have a five-year status and you have a 

     19   three-year status and I buy a deer from you, I have a 

     20   three-year status.  So, in other words, those monitoring 

     21   programs in the various states look at that very 

     22   closely, because it affects the status of the facility 

     23   itself.

     24                  COMMISSIONER COOK:  In other words, that 

     25   seniority or that lack of seniority carries with -- when 






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                                                                23
      1   a deer comes into a herd, if it's below the standard, it 

      2   drops the entire herd?

      3                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  The herd 

      4   assumes the status of the lowest animal.

      5                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  The data that we're 

      6   assimilating and we're accumulating -- Jerry, in your 

      7   opinion, how long will it take before we really will 

      8   have the true results of that data?  In other words, is 

      9   that something we should expect in 60 days or 90 days or  

     10   six months? 

     11                  MR. COOKE:  As far as --

     12                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Results.

     13                  MR. COOKE:  For an animal coming in?

     14                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  No.  An animal 

     15   that's killed within the state.

     16                  MR. COOKE:  Oh, I'm sorry.  I didn't 

     17   understand your question.  That has a lot to do with the 

     18   volume that's going into the facility.  These animals 

     19   are going to be tested through TDML over in College 

     20   Station.  They expect -- if -- if they are presented 

     21   with formalized brain stem, they can turn the test 

     22   around in 48 hours.  However, that's -- that's very 

     23   optimistic.  You know, walking in and putting it in 

     24   through the -- through the program.

     25                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And your thoughts, 





.

                                                                24
      1   Jerry, with regards to how long we should assimilate 

      2   data for internal purposes?  I mean, what do you -- what 

      3   would you like to see in that regard?  Is that something 

      4   that we should keep for a year, two years, six months, 

      5   or...

      6                  MR. COOKE:  As far as our monitoring 

      7   program?

      8                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  The monitoring and 

      9   actually being able to have enough data from within the 

     10   state to make an evaluation as to whether or not we may 

     11   have some problems within the state that we're not aware 

     12   of.

     13                  MR. COOKE:  Our evaluation will be 

     14   ongoing.  In other words, next week we'll have more 

     15   information than we have next week.  And it's a 

     16   cumulative thing.  And because we're -- you know, Texas 

     17   is a big place and there's lots of animals around, we're 

     18   going to be testing.  We're going to be testing animals 

     19   this hunting season with the goal of spending our guys 

     20   up and getting them trained, getting equipment in their 

     21   hands, getting them really into the sampling frame. 

     22                  But we're -- the plan goal is to acquire 

     23   from 2,000 to 3,500 animals across the state over the 

     24   next several years.  This is going to be a cumulative 

     25   thing.  So it's not going to be like this hunting season 





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                                                                25
      1   and, oh, yeah, we're through, because it's not going to 

      2   be that way.

      3                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  I know that we've 

      4   taken action from an interstate standpoint with regards 

      5   to the movement of deer.  Have we at all considered the 

      6   impact of the intrastate movement of deer, in other 

      7   words, the movement of deer from west Texas to south 

      8   Texas or vice versa as -- in other words, it seems to me 

      9   that until we have a high level of comfort that we don't 

     10   have a problem, the intrastate movement of deer is as 

     11   significant as an interstate movement of deer.

     12                  MR. COOKE:  Well, again, you know, one 

     13   could argue, well, we haven't found it yet.  You know, 

     14   what's the problem?  But on the other side of the coin, 

     15   once you've found it, if you just aggravated the issue, 

     16   then obviously that's a problem. 

     17                  I mean, for instance, as an example, if 

     18   we spend this hunting season acquiring samples from our 

     19   state parks and wildlife management areas, and because 

     20   there's a backlog over the hunting season, lots of 

     21   animals going to the lab, let's say it's March before we 

     22   get a response on some of those animals and, oh, my, you 

     23   know, X Y Z state park is found to have chronic wasting 

     24   disease, and then we've found that we've just trapped 

     25   100 deer out of that county, scattered them over Texas.  





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                                                                26
      1   That could be a very confounding issue.

      2                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  It seems to me that 

      3   as valuable as the deer are in this state and to the 

      4   extent that we don't have clear-cut data at this point, 

      5   that we may not have it in the state.  But even if we 

      6   take measures to keep it coming in interstate from 

      7   outside the state, there's still the risk that we may 

      8   be, or potentially, spreading it within the state in our 

      9   own movement.

     10                  MR. COOKE:  Yes.  That is a possibility, 

     11   and a concern.  And a confounding element on our 

     12   monitoring, as well.

     13                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Now, let's take the 

     14   Texas Animal Health Commission.  Do you know whether 

     15   they've taken any steps at all with regards to the 

     16   intrastate movement of deer.

     17                  MR. COOKE:  Not that I'm aware of. 

     18                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Or focused on that 

     19   issue.

     20                  MR. COOKE:  There's been some discussion 

     21   of it.  But as far as CWD is concerned, I'm not really 

     22   sure where they are on it to be very frank with you.  I 

     23   have -- don't know of any rules that relate to 

     24   intrastate movement of animals or change of ownership of 

     25   animals or anything that even remotely relates to that.





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                                                                27
      1                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  I'm just saying from 

      2   a personal perspective, it seems to me that we've taken 

      3   the measures to control, or prevent and control, the 

      4   interstate movement of deer that might be unhealthy.  

      5   But we really haven't focused on within the state 

      6   movement of deer.  And to the extent -- and I'm not 

      7   saying we do, but to the extent that there's a 

      8   potential, we may be aggravating the condition within 

      9   the state.  Although we're protecting against out.  I 

     10   just think we ought to look at that.  I'm -- I'm not 

     11   convinced that's appropriate at this time.  But I think 

     12   that should be a concern. 

     13                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  How much -- if 

     14   we're going to -- you're going to ask us to make a 

     15   decision in November, how much data will we have at that 

     16   time from what he says?

     17                  MR. COOKE:  As far as...

     18                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Test data at 

     19   the November Commission meeting.  Are we going to have 

     20   much at all?

     21                  MR. COOKE:  No.

     22                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  How much will 

     23   we have by January?

     24                  MR. COOKE:  Well, in my -- in the years 

     25   that I was on the wildlife disease project, we would 





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                                                                28
      1   spend most of the year getting no calls and hearing 

      2   nothing.  And, as soon as the hunters hit the field, you 

      3   found out a lot of things was going on.

      4                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  That's what I'm 

      5   asking.

      6                  MR. COOK:  So, basically, when the 

      7   opening day of hunting season comes, this is an issue 

      8   before lots of hunters' eyes.  Clinical or suspicious 

      9   beasties I'm sure will be reported in considerably 

     10   better volume than they are today.  Also, as you move 

     11   into winter, dwindling nutrition also begins to impact 

     12   animals that otherwise may not be succumbing to things.  

     13   So it would surprise me if we had a lot of information 

     14   by November.  We'll have some by the January Commission 

     15   meeting.  But to be very frank with you, it would shock 

     16   me if we had even most of our information in hand before 

     17   the April meeting. 

     18                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Then I've got a 

     19   separate line of questioning if you want to --

     20                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Well, I was just 

     21   going to follow up on that.  Would you be able -- or -- 

     22   and this may be a very unfair and very difficult 

     23   question for you, Jerry, but -- but that's all right, 

     24   you can still answer it.  What volume of data -- in 

     25   looking at the current inventory of deer that we have in 





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                                                                29
      1   this state, what current -- what volume of data would 

      2   you like to see us have before we are mentally satisfied 

      3   that we don't have a health issue within our state?

      4                  MR. COOKE:  I've worked with Dr. Ken 

      5   Waldrup and Dr. Dan Baca of the Animal Health 

      6   Commission.  Dan is their epidemiology stat jock.  He's 

      7   the one who comes up with these sample sizes for 

      8   adequate testing.  And to encounter -- to actually find 

      9   a disease that has a two-percent prevalence in the 

     10   population.  Ecoregion by ecoregion, we would need at 

     11   least 125 to 150 animals from each region, which is  

     12   essentially our regulatory districts.  We have eight 

     13   districts in Texas.  Obviously, some of those wouldn't 

     14   necessarily apply, you know, because they're not 

     15   white-tail counties.  But, by the same token, that's 

     16   basically what we're looking for.  So if we could 

     17   acquire -- if we could acquire in the neighborhood of 

     18   2000, 2500 animals well distributed across the state 

     19   sampling all the eco-regions in Texas and we don't find 

     20   it in that, as Ken Waldrup will say, it's going to prove 

     21   beyond all reasonable doubt that God is a Texan. 

     22                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  You answered it 

     23   extremely well.  From a time perspective, how long do 

     24   you think it would take us within the state to reach 

     25   that level to where we could have that comfort that, 





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                                                                30
      1   forgetting the external influence, internally we are 

      2   healthy? 

      3                  MR. COOKE:  We won't get it done in one 

      4   year.  That's for sure.  Baca, et al., at Animal Health 

      5   Commission would be comfortable if we acquired that much 

      6   information in three years.  But we're going to aim at 

      7   two.  We're going to try to get it done in two years if 

      8   we possibly can.  And that will include clinicals and, 

      9   that's a very important issue.

     10                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Obviously, if we 

     11   became more aggressive in our approach we could expedite 

     12   that.  From a time perspective, in other words, if we 

     13   implemented procedures or something to where we can 

     14   gather more data we could shorten that time span and 

     15   give the state a greater level of comfort at a much 

     16   sooner date.

     17                  MR. COOK:  That is absolutely correct.  

     18   And, as I said, our goal here is to get our sampling 

     19   started and get as many of our guys trained in taking 

     20   the samples as we possibly can. And believe -- and in my 

     21   opinion, having well trained individuals for making the 

     22   sampling and doing the sampling correctly is almost more 

     23   important to me this year than how many we get this 

     24   year.  Because if we -- if we do it wrong, you know, 

     25   we're going to be losing ground.





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                                                                31
      1                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  When did you think 

      2   you're going to reach the level to where you feel you'll 

      3   have the adequate staff that you think will be necessary 

      4   to accomplish that?

      5                  MR. COOKE:  We'll have -- we'll have the 

      6   staff spun up this year.

      7                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  By the end of year?

      8                  MR. COOKE:  Oh, yeah.  Exactly.  In other 

      9   words, we're already -- we've already had individuals 

     10   trained in region three of the wildlife division.  We 

     11   already have plans made to have one of the 

     12   epidemiologists for Animal Health Commission take from 

     13   two from two to three guys from each region.  These are 

     14   key guys.  Our covers, you know, guys -- that's the 

     15   leaders and already have the interest in that area will 

     16   be trained in this sampling.  And they're going to go 

     17   back and train their own folks.  So we're focusing on 

     18   WMAs because they're going to have their hands on a lot 

     19   of animals, but also key field individuals within the 

     20   regulatory districts, as well.

     21                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Have you looked at 

     22   all into TTT permits and whether we will be able to 

     23   obtain data or perhaps some monitoring system that 

     24   would, perhaps, assist you?  I guess my concern is two 

     25   things.  One, to make sure that we're clean within 





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                                                                32
      1   Texas.  And then, two, that we reach that level as 

      2   quickly as possible.  And I guess what I'm trying to get 

      3   from you -- I think you've answered it, Jerry -- is what 

      4   can we do to expedite both sides, you know.  You've 

      5   addressed the issue of more samples, staff, geo -- from 

      6   a geographic standpoint, you feel we've identified the 

      7   geographical areas that you have concern?

      8                  MR. COOKE:  Oh, I see.  Yes.  Ken Waldrup 

      9   at the Animal Health Commission working with 

     10   Doug Humphreys and others clearly identified the 

     11   counties of risk, of highest risk.  I believe that 

     12   there's 13 counties.  There may be as many as 19 

     13   counties.  And this was based on releases within the 

     14   county from outside the state of both elk and deer, 

     15   white tail.  And also the population size in those 

     16   counties. 

     17                  So whatever we sample this year aside 

     18   from our management area and public hunts, we're 

     19   obviously going to be looking for in those counties with 

     20   highest risk.  In other words, we're really going to be 

     21   trying in those counties to focus on those risk areas.

     22                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Okay.  Thank you.

     23                  MR. COOKE:  Also, as I mentioned, we do 

     24   have a draft of our CWD management plan.  It's not 

     25   complete.  We still have some goodies to add at the end, 





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                                                                33
      1   actual procedures object some of these things.  But that 

      2   draft is available for your review, if you so chose.  

      3   We're still calling it a draft because until -- until 

      4   Animal Health Commission and Bob and the chairman say 

      5   okay, this is what we expected to see, we're not going 

      6   to call it a plan yet.

      7                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you, 

      8   Jerry.  I understand that Commissioner Wood from the 

      9   Animal Health Commission is in the audience today.

     10                  MR. COOKE:  She is.

     11                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Correct?  And I 

     12   want to thank you for your help and Animal Health 

     13   Commission's help for getting us through this difficult 

     14   problem.  And it's not over yet, as we point out.  I 

     15   would like to make one note, Madam Chair.

     16                  CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  Are we almost 

     17   finished with this issue?

     18                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I think so.

     19                  CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  Then, I want to say 

     20   something.  One of my best parts of my job is getting to 

     21   go pass out kudos when they are due.  And they are 

     22   certainly due here.  And I know several of the people 

     23   that have put in a great deal of effort on this issue 

     24   are here today.  And I would like to acknowledge Karl 

     25   Kinsel.  Karl, I saw you walking in with a big smile on 





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                                                                34
      1   your face.  And a 170-plus -- I -- is a terrific 

      2   accomplishment.  I know just ten to 14 days ago, we were 

      3   wringing our hands and our nerves were getting a 

      4   little -- little prickly.  But all is well that ends 

      5   well, and this has ended very well indeed.  Kirby Brown 

      6   has put in a tremendous amount of effort here.  Thank 

      7   you, Kirby and the TWA.  I want to thank members of the 

      8   Texas Deer Association that also helped, Gary Machin, 

      9   Slim Crapp, Jerry Johnston, Marty Berry, and many 

     10   others.  I want to thank the members of the Texas Animal 

     11   Health Commission.  Please -- my come complements to 

     12   Commissioner Traylor and Commissioner Sharon and 

     13   Commissioner Wood, who is here today, Ken Waldrup, 

     14   Max Coats, Dr. Baca, and many, many others who have 

     15   helped us get to a voluntary monitoring program, which 

     16   is always the better way to go.  Thanks to everyone.

     17                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Please, Madam 

     18   Chair, I would echo that.  I talked to Karl a few weeks 

     19   ago.  You proved me wrong.  I didn't think you could get 

     20   it done.  But you all -- TWA and the TDA must have 

     21   worked night and day.  And you stepped up to the plate, 

     22   and I appreciate it.  One final note, if you want what I 

     23   think is the best explanation of the Animal Health 

     24   Commission regulations on this matter, there's an 

     25   article in the August 15th Livestock Weekly which tells 





.

                                                                35
      1   you all you ever need to know about that.  And, so, if 

      2   you're interested in exactly how those regs work, that's 

      3   a good synopsis. 

      4                  Thank you, Jerry.  If there are no 

      5   further comments on this item of the agenda, without 

      6   objection, I'll place this item on the Thursday 

      7   Commission agenda for public comment and action. 

      8                  MR. COOKE:  Could I ask a question of 

      9   clarification, if I may?

     10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Yes, sir.

     11                  MR. COOKE:  So I know what I need to do.

     12                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Yes, sir.

     13                  MR. COOKE:  Is it my -- it is my 

     14   understanding that you're asking me also to publish the 

     15   issue of importation.

     16                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  For the --

     17                  MR. COOKE:  For the November meeting.

     18                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Yes, sir.

     19                  MR. COOKE:  That's correct?

     20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Yes, sir.

     21                  MR. COOKE:  In the discussion related to  

     22   movement of animals within the state, is there 

     23   instruction to --

     24                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Further 

     25   briefing, I believe.  Is that --





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                                                                36
      1                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  I would like to see 

      2   that.

      3                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Further 

      4   briefing?

      5                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  I can't see how that 

      6   can hurt this state and the resource.  I think it's a 

      7   vital concern.  I'd like to see staff pursue that.

      8                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Is that the 

      9   understanding that further briefing on that issue?

     10                  MR. COOKE:  Your call.  If we publish it 

     11   this time, we'll be able to have a public debate on the 

     12   issue through public hearing and come back to you in the 

     13   November meeting with a possibility of making a decision 

     14   one way or the other, rather than briefing it and trying 

     15   to do it for January.  But it's your call.  You can 

     16   always say, no, in November.

     17                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  I'd suggest we do it 

     18   in November.

     19                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Yes, sir.

     20                  MR. COOKE:  Thank you. 

     21                  MR. COOK:  I think that is important 

     22   because that gives everybody -- clearly say what it is 

     23   we're talking about.  Gives everybody a chance to 

     24   discuss and comment on the issue.  Plus, it, by action 

     25   in the January meeting, would precede the basic trapping 





.

                                                                37
      1   season which occurred this winter and -- you know, the 

      2   latter part of this winter, if y'all make a decision 

      3   along that line.  So it's important.  It's an important 

      4   issue at this time.  And, like I say, we can -- we can 

      5   review it, have some input on it, and work on it 

      6   November. 

      7                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Is that clear, 

      8   Jerry?

      9                  MR. COOKE:  Yes.

     10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  All right.  

     11   We'll handle that for you.

     12                  And we'll place this item on the Thursday 

     13   Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.  

     14   No further questions on that.  Thank you, Jerry.  And 

     15   you're up again for alternative licensing rules. 

     16                  MR. COOKE:  Once again, Mr. Chairman and 

     17   members, my name is Jerry Cooke, Game Ranch Chief of the 

     18   Wildlife Division presenting you the public rules of 

     19   alternative licenses.  A substantial fraction of the 

     20   total operating funds of this agency comes through 

     21   license sales.  While our automated point of sale system  

     22   provides great utility for selling licenses, monitoring 

     23   revenues, and providing real-time access to license 

     24   buyer information.  Like all automated systems, it is 

     25   subject to catastrophic failure.  During the five years 





.

                                                                38
      1   that we have issued licenses through the POS system, 

      2   we've not needed an alternative to the automated system.  

      3   However, there was no provision or rules, should that 

      4   need actually have arisen.  So what we are proposing is 

      5   to modify the statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation 

      6   to accommodate an alternative license, should it be 

      7   needed.  And the way this would be accomplished is 

      8   basically, if a hunter is holding a license from an 

      9   automated system, there would be no rule change for that 

     10   individual at all.  However, if a hunter was holding a 

     11   hunting license that was the alternative paper license, 

     12   alternative to the POS system, the rules would change in 

     13   such a way that tagging would not be required.  Tags 

     14   from a license would not be a required.  It would 

     15   broaden the log on back to license to include all 

     16   species that previously were tagged under other rules.  

     17   And it would also broaden the use of the resource 

     18   document filled out by the hunters to act in lieu of a 

     19   tag.  And basically that is the proposed change.

     20                  Yes, sir?

     21                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Does that open the 

     22   door to thinking that we might be able to go to a 

     23   tagless system overall, at some point, that we have 

     24   talked about several times in the past? 

     25                  MR. COOKE:  It must.  I mean, the 





.

                                                                39
      1   discussion is done.

      2                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Obviously it 

      3   appears from that recommendation that the staff that's 

      4   involved in this decision believes that it can be done 

      5   without tags.

      6                  MR. COOKE:  The issue has always been 

      7   what does a biologist or game warden do with an 

      8   unattended carcass.  Basically, for a game warden, it 

      9   means we're talking long investigation.  For a 

     10   biologist, it means, I can't collect data from that 

     11   animal.  Because I don't know where it's from with a 

     12   tag.

     13                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Without a physical 

     14   tag.

     15                  MR. COOKE:  The resource document 

     16   actually takes care of that.  It accommodates those 

     17   concerns from both aspects and actually strengthens, in 

     18   my opinion -- you know, you may get law enforcement 

     19   opinions also.  But, in my opinion, it also strengthens 

     20   the enforceability of bag limits in areas by using the 

     21   log on the back of the license.

     22                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So --

     23                  MR. COOKE:  So that's why they 

     24   implemented it.

     25                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  -- we might think 





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                                                                40
      1   that this could be considered as an alternative approach 

      2   for the whole system?

      3                  MR. COOKE:  Certainly -- certainly is a 

      4   discussion point.  Our -- my comfort -- my personal 

      5   comfort zone is good.

      6                  MR. COOK:  You know, this was an 

      7   interesting process that we went through this year with 

      8   developing kind of an emergency back up licensing 

      9   system.  And this of course was one of the issues 

     10   that -- to be able to pull, to rapidly print, and get a 

     11   turnaround on, say, a million or two million licenses or 

     12   some variety while, on the other hand, not waste money 

     13   in doing so.  We evolved to this system with a lot of 

     14   input from all the divisions of the log -- heavy duty 

     15   log on the back and some other options.  You will notice 

     16   we actually made a step in that direction earlier this 

     17   year in the design and development of your automated 

     18   license, which also now has, in addition to the tags, 

     19   also has a log on the back.  So we're thinking about, 

     20   you know, getting people to think about, getting people 

     21   to utilize that method of record keeping, of reference.  

     22   So when, you know, a warden wants to check the entire 

     23   camp or the truck or the whatever, that we've got that 

     24   system in place. 

     25                  The advantage -- of course, there are 





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                                                                41
      1   pros and cons.  The advantage makes a system available a 

      2   much simpler system available, like to go -- for 

      3   internet sales.  Tagging, having tags, via the internet 

      4   is almost impossible.  But we can -- we can sell 

      5   individual licenses, individually numbered licenses via 

      6   the internet effectively if we don't have a tagging 

      7   requirement.  Again, I think it's -- I think it's one of 

      8   those things that we're in.  As we know, we're in the 

      9   second year of our Worldcom contract, and right now that 

     10   system is working well for us.  And it's certainly 

     11   something we want to look at in the future, get prepared 

     12   for, get people thinking about.  There's a comfort 

     13   level, I think, with land owners and that tag.  It's a 

     14   tradition that we'll -- that we'll have to cross.  But 

     15   it's a good process, and we've got -- the nice thing 

     16   about it is, is that we've got the log in place on your 

     17   current license that you will be issued by Worldcom.

     18                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  But does that 

     19   satisfy the data gap, so to speak, if we were to go 

     20   tagless?

     21                  MR. COOK:  I don't think -- I don't think 

     22   the log on the back necessarily satisfies the data gap.  

     23   The -- some sort of resource document would have to do 

     24   that to satisfy the data gap.  There are other ways to 

     25   get that same data.





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      1                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I'm sold on the 

      2   convenience of the tagless.  I'm just concerned about 

      3   the data gap and the --

      4                  MR. COOKE:  I understand.

      5                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  -- on the 

      6   enforcement.

      7                  MR. COOK:  We will have to enforce 

      8   it.

      9                  MR. COOKE:  Great.  As I said, the use of 

     10   the resource document satisfied our concerns for being 

     11   able to identify an unattended carcass.

     12                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I think it's 

     13   progress in the right direction.

     14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you, 

     15   Jerry.  Any other questions or comments on the issue of 

     16   alternative licensing rules?  If there are no further 

     17   questions, without objection, I will place this item on 

     18   the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public 

     19   comment and action.  Thank you, Jerry. 

     20                  Next, John Herron up with nongame 

     21   commercial permit regulation.

     22                  MR. HERRON:  Good morning.  Madam 

     23   Chairman and Commissioners, my name is John Herron, and 

     24   I am the branch chief for the Wildlife Diversity Branch 

     25   and Wildlife Division.  Pleased to be here today to 





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                                                                43
      1   brief the Commission on two different regulatory actions 

      2   that are combined under this one agenda item.  The 

      3   first -- there we go.  The first item is a relatively 

      4   simple one.  We are proposing to change our regulations 

      5   to allow individuals to temporarily possess and move 

      6   threatened and endangered species when those species are 

      7   threatened by construction, right-of-way maintenance, or 

      8   similar activities.  We've had many requests for this 

      9   kind of authorization but currently do not have a permit 

     10   that covers the activity.  The amendment that we're 

     11   proposing would allow the department to authorize 

     12   possession and temporary -- temporary possession and 

     13   transport of these animals by letter, avoiding the need 

     14   for a permit.  And it would also give us the discretion 

     15   to determine when to issue that letter based on the 

     16   qualification of the individual at hand. 

     17                  One thing I would note, too, is this is 

     18   really only a state permit we'd be doing.  If the 

     19   individual is involved in relocating a federally 

     20   endangered species, it would also have to have the 

     21   appropriate federal permit, as well.  In any event, 

     22   fairly simple proposal. 

     23                  The second proposal, I wish it was as 

     24   simple.  This one is going to be more complex and it 

     25   concerns our nongame commercial permits.  These are 





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                                                                44
      1   regulations that were approved back in 1998 and became 

      2   effect in 1999.  And we are proposing -- well, we've 

      3   committed to that time to come to the Commission three 

      4   years later and to revise these regulations as needed.  

      5   It was really a pilot, seeing if we could get a handle 

      6   on the collection and commercial sell of a number of 

      7   nongame species.  My briefing today to you also includes 

      8   some changes we're recommending from what was originally 

      9   published in the Texas Register. 

     10                  There we go.  Overall, the permitting 

     11   system we have in place for nongame has been a 

     12   tremendous success.  We had a lot of controversy, and we 

     13   established this three years ago.  I think everybody 

     14   we're permitting now is very much in support of the 

     15   system.  And the concerns they all have did not come to 

     16   pass.  We now have a better handle on how many people 

     17   are involved in the collection and sale of these nongame 

     18   species, as this table shows.  And numbers have remained 

     19   fairly constant, although we are seeing an increased 

     20   number of dealers who are purchasing permits. 

     21                  We also better understand what species 

     22   are now commonly on trade.  On this slide, I'm showing 

     23   the top three species that were reported to us over the 

     24   past three years, Black-tailed Prairie Dog, Texas spiny 

     25   soft-shell turtle, and the Western diamondback 





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                                                                45
      1   rattlesnakes.  All three of these species, we had 

      2   reported sales, for the first two, of between 50 and 60 

      3   thousand animals in the three-year period.  For 

      4   rattlesnakes, somewhere around 30,000 animals during the 

      5   three year period.  So a significant occurring in these.   

      6   And each case is different.  We have the pet trade for 

      7   the first, the Asian food market in the second, and then 

      8   the Rattlesnake Roundup phenomena for the third.  We had 

      9   19 species overall where there were reports of 

     10   collection and sale of 2000 or more individuals during 

     11   that three-year period.  So, as I said, we have a much 

     12   better handle.  And it has helped us address the 

     13   concerns the public has expressed on commercial take.  

     14   Particularly, turtle trade, rattlesnake roundups, and 

     15   the pet prairie doing trade. 

     16                  The changes we're proposing from our 

     17   current regulation, basically, is, currently we require 

     18   people to have a permit if they possess ten or more of a 

     19   species, we're going to increase that to 25 specimens.  

     20   Basically, the requirement would be that, if you are 

     21   taking any of the listed animals for commercial purposes 

     22   or possessing 25 or more, you would have to have one of 

     23   these permits.  We're reducing the number of species 

     24   affected by this regulation from 210 nongame species to 

     25   40, which we think is a significant simplification.  The 





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                                                                46
      1   data we collected has allowed us to see where trade is 

      2   significant and to reduce the scope of this regulation 

      3   to really where we think we need to focus. 

      4                  We're reducing the reporting requirement.  

      5   Now requiring only dealers to submit an annual report 

      6   rather than both collectors and dealers.  We found that 

      7   we're really getting the information we need from the 

      8   dealers alone.  There's no sense to inconvenience the 

      9   collectors just to basically collect what's duplicate 

     10   data.  We're also proposing for the first time to 

     11   prohibit certain means and methods of take.  I'll go 

     12   into that in more detail shortly.  Then we're also 

     13   clarifying that anybody who collects for commercial 

     14   export also needs a permit, even if they're not selling 

     15   within Texas.  If they're collecting in Texas with the 

     16   intent to sell out of state, they have to have this 

     17   permit. 

     18                  A few minor changes, too.  There's been 

     19   some public confusion about the way the regulation was 

     20   worded.  We're going to try and simplify our 

     21   terminology, basically, referring to the two permits.  

     22   The first is the nongame permit, the second the dealer's 

     23   nongame permit.  This is a minor change from what was 

     24   published in Texas register where we proposed the first 

     25   one to be called a nongame commercial permit.  That 





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                                                                47
      1   still seemed to be causing confusion, so we've just 

      2   eliminated the word commercial from it.  We're 

      3   clarifying what the two -- differences are between the 

      4   two permits.  Basically, only dealers can sell these 

      5   animals to the public.  And people have the nongame can 

      6   only sell to dealers, kind of a tiered system.  We're 

      7   also clarifying the fact that individuals who collect -- 

      8   we currently have an exemption for processed products.  

      9   We're saying now that individuals who collect and 

     10   process those animals themselves before a sell would 

     11   still need a permit.  In the case of someone, for 

     12   example, collecting rattlesnakes, turning them into hat 

     13   fans and leather products.  They would still have to 

     14   have a permit. 

     15                  In regards to means and methods, we're 

     16   proposing to prohibit the use of vacuum-powered devices, 

     17   and, specifically, this addresses little prairie dogs 

     18   for the pet trade.  As the picture shows -- my picture 

     19   changed.  Anyway, on the left, it basically shows a 

     20   vacuum device on a tractor.  And the reason we propose 

     21   this initially was that this was originally prohibited 

     22   by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as means of take.  

     23   And we had some inconsistencies between state law and 

     24   federal law.  We proposed this in order to be 

     25   consistent.  But since then, the USDA has changed their 





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                                                                48
      1   rules and are now allowing the use of vacuum devices in 

      2   a case-by-case basis.  Nonetheless, our concern really 

      3   with this is the fact that it's a nonspecific means of 

      4   take.  Not only are they taking prairie dogs out of 

      5   those burrows, but they are potentially taking protected 

      6   burrowing owls and other species.  Basically, there's 

      7   nontarget effects or, as we were talking in a meeting a 

      8   few days, bycatch might be the proper term to use here.  

      9   So that's really what our concern is.  I will point out, 

     10   we've had a lot of public comment on this issue.  And I 

     11   expect we will have people showing up tomorrow to 

     12   testify on this.  I've had about 45 e-mails supporting 

     13   the ban on vacuum devices.  And one dealer who uses 

     14   vacuum devices who opposes that change. 

     15                  Other changes we're also now requiring 

     16   that traps must be tagged.  In our draft regulation that 

     17   we published we proposed this only be on unattended 

     18   traps.  Since then, based on public comment, we're 

     19   proposing that all traps must be tagged, not just 

     20   unattended trapping nongame species.  Also, we're 

     21   requiring that turtle traps must be have an opening 

     22   above the water in order to prevent the drowning of 

     23   turtles that are caught. 

     24                  I mentioned we're changing reporting 

     25   requirements.  We are now requiring dealers to include 





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                                                                49
      1   the permit number of the individual that they buy from.  

      2   We're changing the reporting period because we were 

      3   having a problem with the overlapping of the reporting 

      4   period ending after people had to renew their permits.  

      5   So we're now moving up the period of reporting, making 

      6   them due August 15th. 

      7                  We're also going to require that people 

      8   maintain their records for two years.  Again, this is a 

      9   minor change from what we published in the draft.  We 

     10   had originally said one year.  But then we realized 

     11   that, by moving up the reporting data, there is some 

     12   overlap and we really need dealers to keep two years of 

     13   records so we can be certain what happened during that 

     14   August/September time period. 

     15                  As I mentioned the number of species 

     16   affected, we're reducing from 210 to 40, really focusing 

     17   on those species that we think we need data on 

     18   concerning commercial collection and sale.  And one note 

     19   I wanted to make in terms of the species list is we have 

     20   removed bats from the list.  They were on the list 

     21   before.  But at the last legislative session, the 

     22   legislature passed a law protecting bats.  So we can now 

     23   remove them from this list because take is no longer 

     24   allowed for commercial purposes. 

     25                  Okay.  I've got some long, several slides 





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                                                                50
      1   here, but I just want to sure the Commission was aware 

      2   of what species we are proposing to keep on this list.  

      3   I won't go over this in great detail.  Basically, we are 

      4   seeing significant trade in toads and box turtles, as 

      5   well as a number of aquatic turtles.  And these being 

      6   largely collected for sale overseas as part of the food 

      7   market.  Several lizards, as well as rattlesnakes, Jack 

      8   rabbits and prairie dogs.  We are proposing some changes 

      9   to the list that we published in the Texas Register 

     10   based on public comment.  We are proposing to drop these 

     11   species from the list, as well.  They're abundant 

     12   species, and we felt there really was no -- no need for 

     13   us to track collection of them. 

     14                  Also, based on public comment, we 

     15   requested to retain some species on the list.  

     16   Basically, it was suggested to us that, if we're going 

     17   to keep a few -- the major aquatic turtles on the list, 

     18   that we should also keep those turtles on the list that 

     19   are similar to them in order to avoid people shifting 

     20   from harvesting one species going to an unregulated 

     21   species.  And so, basically, these are closely related 

     22   species.  It would just allow us some consistency in 

     23   making sure there's no shift in commercial trade or 

     24   reporting.  And, again, these are all aquatic turtles.  

     25   Also, the diamondback terrapin, which is a species of 





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                                                                51
      1   concern.  The spadefoot toad, again, similarity to 

      2   another toad we have on the list.  And then, similarly, 

      3   it was recommend that if we're keeping diamondback -- 

      4   Western diamondback rattlesnakes on the list, that we 

      5   should keep all the rattlesnakes on the list.  Again, in 

      6   order to assure that there is not a shift in harvest 

      7   from one species group to another. 

      8                  With this, I'd be happy to answer any 

      9   questions the Commission may have.

     10                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Mr. Herron, has the 

     11   data that you've been able to obtain so far given you 

     12   any cause for concern about the numbers of any of these 

     13   species that are being trapped and traded and sold or 

     14   whatever.

     15                  MR. HERRON:  Well, the challenge we have 

     16   in the nongame business is unlike the game management.  

     17   Unfortunately, we don't have good population data on 

     18   most of these species.  So we're now getting good 

     19   harvest area.  At least, human harvest.  It doesn't tell 

     20   us what other mortality factors are.  But, yeah, I think 

     21   so.  And I think the one group of -- species group of 

     22   concern we've talked about the most are the box turtles.  

     23   Most other states prohibit the sale of box turtles.  If 

     24   you go to most of the eastern states, their populations 

     25   have been decimated to the fact the situation where many 





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      1   of these states now list them as threatened and 

      2   endangered species.  Our best guess is that we still 

      3   have abundant numbers of box turtles.  But I think if we 

      4   were going to come at some point and request further 

      5   restriction on the take, box turtles would probably be 

      6   the first category we would. 

      7                  We even debated this with -- I do have an 

      8   ad hoc advisory committee of permittees that assisted me 

      9   with this.  And we had some discussions of this over the 

     10   past months.  Well, if we were going to do it, how would 

     11   we do it?  Would we have a slot limit?  Would it be 

     12   prohibiting sell?  Adults versus young?  We really 

     13   didn't figure out a way to do it effectively, and we're 

     14   not that concerned at this point.  But I would think 

     15   that's going to be the first species group.  Secondly, 

     16   it would probably be the aquatic turtles.  But, again, 

     17   they seem to be an abundant species.  We're a big state 

     18   with a lot of public waters.  We're not overly concerned 

     19   about the take of those, but we think it still merits us 

     20   to monitor harvest.

     21                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I want to also take 

     22   this opportunity to, John, to complement you and your 

     23   staff on the way you've handled this.  I remember the 

     24   '98 meeting, and there was a lot of  controversy about 

     25   it.  There were a lot of unhappy people.  You've done a 





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                                                                53
      1   good job of getting the constituency satisfied with what 

      2   you're doing.  And you've also done what you promised, 

      3   and that's coming back and simplifying it and reducing 

      4   it.  And I think you and your group need to be 

      5   complemented for that.

      6                  MR. HERRON:  I appreciate that.

      7                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  A job well done.

      8                  MR. HERRON:  I'll pass it on to them.

      9                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Commissioner 

     10   Ramos?

     11                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  This may be a very 

     12   insignificant point, but on proposal one where you issue 

     13   the permit for the relocation of the species, do we 

     14   dictate, or do we control where that animal will then be 

     15   released?

     16                  MR. HERRON:  Yes, sir.  As part of that, 

     17   one of the conditions we basically have is that they can 

     18   only move them a short distance.  The intent is that, 

     19   for example, if a power line right-of-way is going 

     20   through or a pipeline, that they be able to take those 

     21   animals and relocate them.  Generally, we're talking in 

     22   the order of a few hundred yards.  So it's not like 

     23   moving them from one county to another.  The fact of the 

     24   matter is, you know, those people -- that construction 

     25   foreman, as soon as he or she goes and picks up a Texas 





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                                                                54
      1   tortoise and picks it up to move it, really they're in 

      2   violation of the law.  So, yes, we do have that 

      3   condition included in the letter that we're proposing.

      4                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  So that -- in other 

      5   words, they would be prohibited from taking it, let's 

      6   say, home or whatever.

      7                  MR. HERRON:  Yes, sir.

      8                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Okay.  Thank you.

      9                  John, to follow up on 

     10   Commissioner Angelo's comments, I also wanted to 

     11   complement you.  I remember -- I was not on commission 

     12   at the time, but I remember the hearings on this.  And 

     13   you handled a difficult situation well.  It seems that 

     14   now we're finally get something data on some of these 

     15   species.  Can you make a distinction between those that 

     16   are being harvested for the hobby trade, if that's the 

     17   right term, and those for food, commercial food 

     18   purposes?

     19                  MR. HERRON:  Yes.  And I think the way 

     20   we've been able to distinguish that is actually -- a 

     21   benefit of this permitting system has been we're having 

     22   much better dialogue with those people who are involved 

     23   in the commercial business.  And I don't want to call it 

     24   hearsay because it's more than that.  But in that 

     25   dialogue, you know, we do have people telling us -- for 





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                                                                55
      1   example, we were just talking to about the yellow mud 

      2   turtle, which is a pet animal, not a food trade.  And 

      3   although numbers are low, basically, the dealers are 

      4   telling us, this is becoming a very popular animal.  

      5   Fortunately, it's a very abundant animal, as well.  

      6   Stock tanks and stuff.  So through that dialogue, we are 

      7   getting an idea of which of these are collected for food 

      8   and which of these are collected for pets.  And, again, 

      9   you know, really it's the turtles that -- the aquatic 

     10   turtles that are being sought in large numbers to 

     11   satisfy that food market for turtle meat, turtle soup, 

     12   and those types of things.

     13                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Do you feel 

     14   like you have good idea about compliance if -- with the 

     15   regs because that follow-up --

     16                  MR. HERRON:  That's a very good question.   

     17   We have seen -- we have had concerns, minor concerns 

     18   over reporting.  Generally, we're seeing anywhere from, 

     19   oh, 90 percent compliance.  And we have people who buy 

     20   permits who neglect to send a report.  Through 

     21   discussion, generally, it appears that these are people 

     22   who bought the permit but ended up never dealing or 

     23   collecting.  And one of the reasons we wanted to 

     24   simplify this is to make it more worth our while to 

     25   actually do follow up on them.  Because we now know if 





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                                                                56
      1   this regulation passes that these are species we are 

      2   vitally interested in, and that it would be appropriate 

      3   to go do some more follow up with them.  We have had 

      4   discussions with people who are doing this without the 

      5   proper permits.  I think we have very good compliance 

      6   with the dealers, because much like a lot of this 

      7   business, our best policing comes internally.  And if 

      8   one dealer is aware of somebody else who is in the 

      9   business and doesn't have a permit, they will report 

     10   them.  I think our compliance -- the reason we're seeing 

     11   more dealer permits being bought is because compliance 

     12   is increasing.  Overall, it seems pretty good.

     13                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Good.  Thank 

     14   you.  Any other questions?  Comments?

     15                  Thank you, John.

     16                  If there are no further questions or 

     17   discussion, without objection, I'll place this item on 

     18   the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public 

     19   comments and action.  And that being our final item on 

     20   the agenda, is there any other business to come before  

     21   the regulations committee?  There being none, we will 

     22   adjourn at 10:10.  Madam Chair?

     23                  CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  Thank you, 

     24   Commissioner Fitzsimons.  

     25                  (HEARING ADJOURNED)





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      1                REPORTER'S CERTIFICATE

      2   STATE OF TEXAS   )

      3   COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

      4   

      5        I, SHANA R. WISE, a Certified Court Reporter in and 

      6   for the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the 

      7   foregoing pages constitute a full, true, and correct 

      8   transcript of the minutes of the Texas Parks and 

      9   Wildlife Commission on August 28, 2002 in the Commission 

     10   Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife 

     11   Headquarters Complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas.

     12        I FURTHER CERTIFY that the proceedings of said 

     13   public meeting were reported by me and accurately 

     14   reduced to typewriting under my supervision and control.

     15        WITNESS MY HAND this the 21st day of October, 2002.

     16   
          
     17   
                                                               
     18                SHANA R. WISE, CSR NO. 6642    
                       Expiration Date:  12-31-02
     19                7800 IH 10 West
                       Suite 100
     20                San Antonio, Texas  78230
                       (210) 377-3027
     21   
          
     22   EBS NO. 133345

     23   

     24   

     25   

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